“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you from doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” – Stephen Hawking
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is gaining attention and traction in its unique way that it utilises technology to merge the biological, physical, and digital worlds. The roadmap of technological development can be traced through the following Industrial Revolutions:
- The First Industrial Revolution is where steam and waterpower were used to drive mechanisation and industrialisation.
- The Second Industrial Revolution was built upon the First Industrial Revolution, with the exception that electricity and oil were the primary drivers of industrialisation and mass production via mechanisation.
- The use of nuclear energy to drive industrialisation and mechanisation was the focus of the Third Industrial Revolution. Additionally, this was the first period where digital technology was used as an automation vehicle.
Nuclear energy: Growing in economic importance
At this juncture, it is essential to note that each of these Industrial Revolutions builds on the progress and development of the previous Revolution. Additionally, the fight against climate change is gaining traction, primarily driven by the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Thus, it is vital to look carefully at which energy generation measures that are harmful to the environment and which ones are not acceptable. It is worth noting that nuclear energy is part of the acceptable forms of energy, specifically because atomic power generators are one of the “lowest emitters of greenhouse gasses”.
Nuclear energy: Consequences of working in the industry
On the other hand, the increase in the nuclear energy sector output has its health-related risks. One of these potential consequences of working in a nuclear power plant or being involved in building nuclear weapons is radiation sickness that can result in radiogenic cancer, including leukaemia, chronic silicosis, and beryllium illness.
Unfortunately, occasionally a nuclear disaster like Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster occurs. These power plants are very sensitive to natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis. The Fukushima disaster was started by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.
As soon as the earthquake and tsunami were detected, the active reactors were shut down. However, in this case the earthquake generated a fourteen-metre high tsunami wave that flooded the ground floor of the nuclear plant causing the nuclear meltdown and hydrogen explosion of three reactors within the plant. As a result, there was the release of radioactive contamination which affected the towns and villages within a 20-km radius.
Consequently, in the United States, the Energy Employees, Occupational Illness Compensation Program was passed by Congress in 2000. And, this program is specifically designed to compensate people who developed illnesses as a result of working in the nuclear industry.
Also, this program is administered by the Department of Labour. However, only certain illnesses that have been linked to radiation, heavy metal, and chemical exposure by the division of energy employees occupational illness compensation. Not all radiation sickness-related sicknesses are covered by this act.